Sound City, David Grohl, and what’s essential

21 08 2013

I write as a Jesus-follower…but hear me out.

I just finished watching the docu-film, “Sound City.” Produced by David Grohl (pictured), former drummer of Nirvana along with lead singer Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. The film tells the story of a small, homely sound studio in Van Nuys, California that had an amazing run of hit albums from no-name groups that became household words. Though I am not a sound cityrock-and-roll officianado, I was caught up in the human side of the story as chance meetings and pick-up jam sessions led to sounds that spontaneously captured the passions of the musicians and millions of fans who came to love them.

But that is a sidelight to my question. As I finished the film, I found myself really liking these people. They were human, and valued some of the same things I do. They loved life. They explored what makes life meaningful and full. They even discussed what constitutes “feelings.” I found myself wondering, “Would it be so very difficult for them to find Christ?” I pondered to myself, as I now wonder in this missive, “Could we not remove some non-essential obstacles so that these really likeable guys wouldn’t have such a convoluted journey finding Jesus?”

Hence the question: What’s the ground we cannot give up and still be true?  Or put another way: What, purely, is essential?

Is it the church? Must a person buy into the church to be a Jesus follower? Some would say yes–that the church is the intermediary to God. The church is the depository of truth, they would say. It has the sacraments and ordinances. The priesthood and the prayers and the preachers. The church is the place of healing and nurture, of accountability and growth.

david grohlIs it a conservative stand on current moral issues? Must the guys who recorded at Sound City oppose the gay agenda? Must they oppose abortion? Are these issues the ground we cannot give up? Must they vote Republican? or Democrat? Is the uncrossable line for evangelicals political in nature?

Or is love the only essential? Didn’t Jesus Himself agree with the lawyer who said the essentials were loving God and neighbor? Wouldn’t it be accurate to say that love is all that really matters?

No, you say. These are not the core. These are peripheral. Secondary. And as for love, when not coupled with truth it approves anything. Love by itself wanders along any path.

I agree with you. Which leads me to ask: If these are not the pure essence, why do we spend any effort battling for them?

But now, before I lose you, I must answer the question as I see it. What do I wish David Grohl and Paul McCartney could see with unveiled eyes? What depth of feeling would I long for them to know way down in the core of their passionate hearts? Simply this: that Jesus Christ loves them so deeply; that His death on the cross is sufficient to deliver them completely; that Jesus rose from the dead and will raise them too, if they will only believe. This, all this, is a gift of grace to be freely received.

That is the sum of it. Take this good news away and the deal is off. Hold it high, and people who were once far away can come near.


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